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Attention all managers
PHOTO: Owen Egan
Shortly after Principal Bernard Shapiro arrived at McGill to take on his new job, he addressed the members of Management Forum, the over 700 McGill staffers holding down managerial or professional positions.
Among the things he said was that the contributions made by non-academic staff are often underappreciated in universities, where the teaching and research done by scholars and scientists are the main events.
Speaking to the same audience at Management Forum's recent "Managing McGill: Mission Possible" conference, Shapiro introduced a series of new initiatives intended to say "thank you" to managers and professionals while offering them new opportunities to hone their skills.
Most of the initiatives were developed, at Shapiro's suggestion, by the members of Management Forum's steering committee.
The resulting professional development program has three components.
Professional development leaves will allow managers to take sabbaticals from their jobs in order to acquire new skills -- by taking a degree, for instance.
The University will provide 50% to 100% of the manager's salary during that time, depending on the nature of the leave, and the manager's unit would receive replacement funds to hire a temporary replacement if need be.
Professional exchanges will provide managers with the opportunity to see how their job is done at other institutions.
An in-house development program will give managers access to training opportunities within McGill (through the Centre for Continuing Education or the Executive Management Institute, for instance).
Fran Ezzy-Jorgensen, outgoing chair of the Management Forum steering committee, credits all the members of her team over the past two years with helping to refine the proposals, singling out two in particular, Denis Marchand and Sander Wasser.
Applications for leaves will be scrutinized by a committee chaired by Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Morty Yalovsky. Representatives of HR, Management Forum's steering committee, McGill's executive corps and the McGill University Non-Academic Staff Association will sit on the committee.
Ezzy-Jorgensen says the decision was made not to straitjacket the terms of the leave by making its requirements too detailed. "We really don't know what sorts of things might be proposed." Proposals should be able to point to measurable benefits, though, for both the manager taking a leave and for McGill itself.
Shapiro also announced another new initiative, the Principal's Recognition Award for Administrative and Support Staff. Each year four staff -- one from trades and services, one from management and two from clerical, technical or non-academic library staff -- will earn the prizes, along with $5,000 each.
Shapiro told the audience that McGill wasn't just "a community of scholars, it's a community of people committed to scholarship."
The principal talked about how he had been taking some McGill courses himself to bone up on his art history. The access to students was eye-opening. "The students sitting next to you are nothing if not frank."
He said that McGill still doesn't pay enough attention to providing good service to its most important clientele -- its students. While there are plenty of examples of sterling service, far too often students walk away from an administrative encounter with a feeling that the McGill official's attitude was, "Aren't you lucky we say hello.
"That's inadequate, embarrassing, patronizing and false."
He stated that McGill's Planning Office would begin to use polling and other techniques to more carefully "assess and monitor students as they go through the McGill experience."
He also announced that in the spring, Senate would be called upon to mull over different future scenarios for McGill.
While McGill might not be as badly off as it once was, Shapiro estimates that we still need at least $50 million more each year to maintain the University's current goals of being a place that is both wide-ranging and high quality.
Hearkening back to the early days of his term, when he suggested that McGill should consider becoming a much smaller place, Shapiro smiled as he recalled the reaction he received. "To call [the idea] a lead balloon would be kind."
What isn't up for debate, Shapiro suggested, was that a game plan based on more than wishful thinking is required for McGill's future.
'Tis the season for the McCord
Just in case your holidays aren't full enough to keep your little elves entertained, the McCord Museum has some musical and theatrical performances geared to enchant the wee ones and jaded elderly alike.
In Baba O'Rom and the Crystal Chicken on December 15, marionette Le matou noir will whisk you to the Orient to tell the tale of how salesman Baba O'Rom and his faithful chicken, Ezmaldah, save the good Caliph from the evil machinations of his not-so-good vizier. For ages 5 to 9, 1:30 pm (French), 3 pm (English).
Nathalie Picard, a musican from the Huron-Wendat nation, will play Native musical instruments on December 16, 1:30 pm (French). Share in her ancestry with her spellbinding performance.
On December 22, 1:30 pm, Youtheatre presents The Seven Ravens, a new adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale by Canadian playwright Kathleen McDonnell. A young girl's brothers have been turned into ravens by a curse, and she must travel to the ends of the world to find them and restore their forms. Expect puppets, masks, and a plucky heroine.
Théâtre Biscuit will lead children aged three and up around the world on December 23, 1:30 pm (French) and 3 pm (English). They will use music, dancing and puppets to entertain and delight.
Get the bairns in the mood of long winter nights by exposing them to the world of Scandinavia and Vinland (believed to be on the tip of Newfoundland), where Vikings and Skraelings respectively hail from. Full Circle: First Contact examines the collide of these cultures circa 1000 CE when Leif Ericson and his colonists encountered Natives in Vinland. See artifacts of silver, iron and stone, as well as of wood and ivory.
The museum's ongoing Arion Ensemble concerts will see love duets performed by soprano Suzie Le Blanc and countertenor (and McGill graduate) Daniel Taylor early in the new year. Guest conductor Stephen Stubbs will direct the singers and some twenty orchestral musicians on period instruments in an all-Handel treat. Bathe your ears in the dulcet tones of some of Handel's most touching arias January 18, 19, and 20.
And you can always visit the McCord's permanent exhibition, Simply Montreal: Glimpses of a Unique City. This is designed to lure young and old alike into the history and lifestyle of Montreal from the 17th century onward.
Oh Christmas Tree
PHOTO: Owen Egan
It's the time of year when the Great Pumpkin rises from the patch and soars into the sky... No, wait, that was October. Now we're in the month of the annual culling of the evergreens to make our homes smell good and Christmassy and give the family a focal point to put prezzies under.
Macdonald Campus's Morgan Arboretum can help us with our yuletide needs.
Each day, from 9 am to 4 pm, you can pick up a fine balsam fir, 5-12 feet high, for $30 ($20 for Friends of the Arboretum) at 150 Chemin des Pins, Ste. Anne de Bellevue. They also sell poinsettias and other potted plants, honey, and bundles of coniferous branches.
Get in touch with your inner Martha at their Christmas wreath–making workshop, December 15, at the Conservation Centre. The 9 am slot is already full, but they're still taking names for the 1 pm workshop. Bring $15 and your own hand secateurs (that's pruning shears, for the uninitiated). Reserve a space at 398-7811. Go to the web site, www.total.net/~arbo, for explicit directions on how to get there.
The site also gives foliage lore. The Romans started it all by decorating trees with wee metal things during winter festivities. The Brits and Germans brought the tradition over to North America. Sébastien Burelle writes, "The first Christmas tree in Quebec was decorated by a German baron in Sorel, in 1781. He chose a balsam fir, and decorated it with beautiful white candles."
The arboretum is 245 hectares of fun, located on the western tip of the island. Turned over to McGill by the Morgan family in 1945, there are 150 species of trees hosting 30 species of mammals and 20 types of reptiles and amphibians. Cross-country ski during winter and spy on 200 species of feathered friends all year 'round.